13.2 Planning Activities
Responsibility for Planning Activities
Before planning an activity, leaders consider the spiritual and temporal needs of members. Leaders seek the guidance of the Spirit to determine what kind of activity would help meet those needs. Careful planning is necessary to ensure that activities accomplish gospel-centered purposes and meet the needs of those who participate.
Under the direction of the bishopric, the ward council oversees the planning of ward activities. When an activity is for a specific organization or group in the ward, it is planned under the direction of the priesthood or auxiliary leaders who are responsible for the organization. When an activity is for the entire ward, the bishop may assign responsibility for it to one or more organizations represented on the ward council. He may also assign responsibility for an activity to other individuals or to a committee, working under the direction of the ward council. Normally these assignments are temporary for a specific activity.
Under the direction of the stake presidency, the stake council oversees the planning of stake activities. For more information about stake activities, see 13.3.
Leaders ensure that activities strengthen the family rather than compete with it. Some activities can be family centered, giving families opportunities to participate together. Activities should support parents by teaching their children to be faithful followers of Christ.
Leaders also ensure that activities do not become so numerous that they put undue burdens on members.
Those who plan activities strive to have participants be actively involved, since participating is usually more beneficial than just observing. One way to encourage participation is to have members use their gifts, skills, and talents in the activity.
Those who plan activities should make a special effort to reach out to new members, less-active members, youth, single adults, people with disabilities, and people of other faiths. Leaders should be sensitive to any special circumstances of participants, such as physical limitations, family concerns, and cultural and language differences.
Church activities should follow and teach Church standards. They should provide a wholesome environment where participants can develop friendships with others who have similar beliefs and standards. Activities should be uplifting and emphasize things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13). Activities are not to include anything that is immoral or suggestive or that makes evil appear acceptable and normal. Leaders ensure that any entertainment is in keeping with the teachings of the Savior.
Dress and grooming should be modest, tasteful, and appropriate for the activity. The bishopric or stake presidency determines the dress standards for activities. Leaders who plan an activity may recommend dress standards that are consistent with gospel principles.
Substances that are contrary to the Word of Wisdom are not permitted at Church activities or on Church premises. Persons who are obviously under the influence of alcohol or other drugs must not be admitted to Church activities.
For more information on Church standards, see For the Strength of Youth.
Balance and Variety
Leaders should plan a balanced activities program that includes a variety of activities. Members should have opportunities to participate in activities that appeal to their interests. Members should also have opportunities to support others in their interests. Planning a yearly calendar helps leaders achieve a balance of service, cultural arts, and physical activities without creating excessive demands on members’ time.
The following paragraphs provide some examples of worthwhile activities.
Service activities provide opportunities for members to show love for those in need, whether or not they are members of the Church, and feel the joy of helping them. These activities could include visiting the sick or lonely, fulfilling welfare assignments, beautifying Church buildings and grounds, and participating in community projects.
Cultural arts activities provide opportunities for members to develop their talents and interests. These activities also nurture creativity, confidence, communication, and cooperation. They could include talent shows or performances in dance, music, and drama. They could also include the celebration of local or general Church history.
Sports, Recreation, Health, and Fitness
For information about Church sports activities, see 13.6.21.
Recreational activities can vary according to the resources available in the area. These activities may include historical commemorations, camping, hiking, or pursuit of hobbies. Recreational activities can often be planned so that families can participate together.
As individuals, as families, and as Church groups, members are encouraged to participate in activities that contribute to their health and fitness. These activities may include walking, jogging, aerobic and other exercise programs, health classes, and fitness training (see 13.6.25, item 2).
Church activities should be planned as far in advance as reasonable. They should be included on the stake or ward calendar. Leaders should keep parents informed of activities for children and youth.
If an activity will be held at a meetinghouse or another Church facility, planners reserve the facility in advance to avoid conflicts with other activities or meetings. Each meetinghouse has an agent bishop assigned by the stake presidency. He oversees the scheduling of the meetinghouse facilities, though he usually appoints another person to do the actual scheduling.
Monday nights are reserved for family home evening (see 13.6.10).
Funding for Activities
Leaders ensure that expenses for activities are in accordance with the current budget and finance policies of the Church. The following principles apply.
Most activities should be simple and have little or no cost. Expenditures must be approved by the stake presidency or bishopric before they are incurred.
Stake and ward budget funds should be used to pay for all activities, programs, and supplies. Members should not pay fees to participate. Nor should they provide materials, supplies, rental or admission fees, or long-distance transportation at their own expense. Activities in which members provide food may be held if doing so does not place undue burdens on them.
Possible exceptions to the funding policy in the preceding paragraph are listed below. If the ward budget does not have sufficient funds to pay for the following activities, leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of them:
If funds from participants are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.
In no case should the expenses or travel for an annual camp or similar activity be excessive. Nor should the lack of personal funds prohibit a member from participating.
For a possible exception in funding large multistake or area events for young single adults, see 16.3.7.
For guidelines about funding travel that is associated with activities, see 13.6.24.
Funding for Equipment and Supplies
If possible, equipment and supplies that the ward needs for annual youth camps are purchased with ward budget funds. If these funds are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.
Equipment and supplies purchased with Church funds, whether from the ward budget or a fund-raising activity, are for Church use only. They are not for the personal use of individuals or families.
Church funds may not be used to purchase uniforms for individuals.